It seems that every other person I know wants to enter the medical field. It is no wonder, since men and women in these careers perform some of society’s most honorable and high-paying work. In the years since I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, I have had the good fortune of meeting many excellent and less-than-excellent doctors. Countless doctors’ appointments haven’t been glamorous by any measure, but the experience has definitely been educational. When you are constantly surrounded by people in the medical field, you start to notice many things: the factors that elevate a good doctor to a great doctor, the nuances that make or break a hospital’s professionalism, the motives of your caretakers. I can’t say that I know much more about anatomy than I did in my pre-hospital life, but I’ve learned a lot about perfecting patient experience. I hope my observations can be of some help to those of you who dream of thriving in the world of medicine.
1. Work with Pure Intentions
Let’s be honest: for most people, the first allure of work in the medical field is the high salary that comes with it. Motivation by money is not a bad thing – unless it is your one and only motivation. Nurses who have confided to me that income is their sole incentive are uncoincidentally sloppier with IV needles and have a higher propensity to make careless mistakes. Nurses who have a genuine vocation for nursing, with income as a secondary motive, tend to be the most skilled; likewise for doctors. Investment in the job will make you much more focused and respected while you are at it. In a field of work demanding more responsibility and accountability than most, this attention is vital.
2. Bedside Manner Matters
This is particularly exigent for doctors. Because you are a caretaker, your patients will unconsciously associate you with a parental figure. If you are firm and authoritative, yet caring (like a good parent), your patients will give you more trust and helpful information. Patients are usually in a sensitive emotional state if they come to you for help. Flippantly saying things such as “Oh, I know someone who has that condition. He got glaucoma” is very stressful for an already stressed patient. Of course, never neglect to tell patients facts simply to avoid hurting their feelings, but streamline commentary to the essential. Some “fluff” – mild small talk doctors employ to put patients at ease – is fine. In general, know how to read your patients’ psychology and respond appropriately.
*A different bedside manner issue I’ve noticed with younger workers is social ineptitude around patients of the other gender. This comes across as immature. Please communicate equally clearly and professionally with all of your patients.
3. Clear Communication is Key
Before procedures of any kind, please tell your patients of the protocol you are following through with in slow, clear English. Don’t use baby language, but enunciating words with extra care as you verbally walk your client through what’s to come gives him or her a sense of relief. Your being professional and put-together soothes any of your patient’s potential concerns.
4. Take Care of Yourself
Doctors who radiate health and energy are inspiring, especially considering the taxing demands of their job. They also come across as more trustworthy in their advice. It is very difficult to want to follow the health recommendations of someone who looks like they hate their life every time you see them (even if their advice is actually credible).
It is humanizing when a doctor listens to his or her patients’ concerns before jumping to a certain, prescriptive diagnosis. Health is individual to a large extent, and acknowledging a patient’s individuality will not only earn a doctor respect, it will earn him or her insight.
To willingly devote yourself to one career, speak clearly with good manners, take proper care of yourself, and be a good listener – these are essential for jobs in the medical field, but just as important as life skills in general. Skills can only be cultivated through practice, and with an honest sense of purpose, forming these habits is very possible. Many wishes for your growth and earned excellence in whichever path you choose to take in career and in life.